Well, my stars and garters, this is a perishably pleasant piece of writin'... McCague's novel (dedicated to his two teen-age sons) chronicles the adventures of Danny Dye as he follows the building of the Union Pacific westward in 1867. Danny is fifteen when he and his sister Naomi are accidentally separated from their parents in Hannibal, Missouri. They have fallen in with a fleeing journalist who herds them aboard a flatchar bound west. Later the journalist is bilked of his money and Danny and Naomi are separated. They fall in with some newspaper people and spend the next year or more following the new towns burgeoning by the railroad camps and publishing an itinerant newspaper. During this time, Danny gets educated (on Moby Dick) and learns a profession as typesetter-reporter. The plot is fortuitous, based on recurrent coincidental meetings with characters who are always separating again. Sex is skirted, action and detail are everything. The same subject, of following the railroad, was handled to much better advantage in John Culp's recent The Bright Feathers. This will pass the time, though.